Remembering Mahatma Gandhi: The Father of India’s Freedom

Remembering Mahatma Gandhi: The Father of India's Freedom
Remembering Mahatma Gandhi: The Father of India's Freedom

Mahatma Gandhi, often hailed as the Father of the Nation in India, has left an indelible imprint on the world through his life and his distinctive approach to pursuing justice and independence. Even decades after his passing, his influence remains a source of inspiration, shaping the thoughts and actions of individuals across the globe. On this Martyr’s Day, let’s explore the life, movements, and famous quotes of this iconic figure.

Name: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Date of Birth: October 2, 1869
Birthplace: Porbandar, Gujarat
Father: Karamchand Gandhi
Mother: Putlibai
Death: January 30, 1948, Delhi
Nationality: Indian
Wife: Kasturba Gandhi
Professions: Lawyer, Activist, Politician, and Writer

Born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar, Gujarat, Mahatma Gandhi was the son of Karamchand Gandhi and Putlibai. His mother, hailing from an affluent Vaishnavite family, instilled in him profound stories of truth and mortality from a tender age. Mohandas was the fourth child of his father, who served as the Diwan of Porbandar. At the age of thirteen, he entered into marriage with Kasturba, his lifelong unwavering support. Together, they were blessed with four sons: Manilal, Harilal, Devadas, and Ramdas.

Mohandas received his early education in Rajkot, where he delved into subjects like history, geography, arithmetic, and languages. His educational journey faced a brief interruption due to early marriage, but he soon resumed his studies. In 1888, he enrolled at Samaldas College in Bhavnagar, although he felt unfulfilled with his academic pursuits. With determination, he persuaded his parents to allow him to study law in London, making a solemn pledge to abstain from non-vegetarian food, alcohol, and romantic relationships. In London, he joined Inner Temple Law College and became part of a vegetarian society that introduced him to the Bhagavad Gita, an influence that would profoundly shape his beliefs.

In 1893, Gandhi embarked on a journey to South Africa to practice law. There, he experienced a pivotal moment of racial discrimination when he was forcibly ejected from a first-class train compartment reserved for white passengers. This incident ignited his sense of justice, leading him to commit himself to combating racial discrimination. In response, he founded the Natal Indian Congress in 1894 and emerged as a prominent leader within the Indian community. He drew wisdom from ancient Indian literature, including the Tirukkural.

Inspired by the concept of satyagraha (nonviolent resistance), Gandhi organized nonviolent protests in South Africa to confront injustice and discrimination against both Indians and Africans. After spending 21 transformative years in South Africa, he returned to India in 1915, a changed man with newfound wisdom and unwavering confidence.

Upon his return, Gandhi joined the Indian National Congress, mentored by Gopal Krishna Gokhale. He spearheaded various movements for India’s independence, including the Champaran and Kheda satyagrahas. In 1917-18, he led the Non-Cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedience Movement, Swaraj, and the Quit India Movement.

Key movements led by Mahatma Gandhi include:

  1. Leading a civil disobedience campaign to improve the conditions of indigo cultivators suffering under the oppressive Tinkathia system.
  2. Advocating for tax remission by farmers in Kheda, Gujarat, due to poor harvests, resulting in the British government accepting their demands.
  3. Supporting protests against injustice in Turkey and the British government, leading to national leadership recognition.
  4. Initiating a non-cooperation movement against British rule after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, advocating for peaceful resistance and swadeshi (boycott of British goods). He offered to suspend the Civil Disobedience Movement if the British government accepted his 11 demands, but when they did not respond, the movement continued with increased vigor.

India finally achieved independence in 1947, although the joy was marred by communal riots. Deeply disheartened, Gandhi fasted and appealed for peace. Tragically, on January 30, 1948, in New Delhi’s Birla House, he was assassinated by Nathuram Vinayak Godse at the age of 78. The site of his assassination, Birla House, is now known as Gandhi Smriti.

Regrettably, on January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi fell victim to an assassin’s bullet, Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist who vehemently disagreed with Gandhi’s advocacy for peace and his stance on India’s partition. While his death marked the end of an era, Gandhi’s principles continue to serve as a guiding light for those pursuing justice and equality worldwide.

Gandhi was not merely a freedom fighter but also a prolific writer. His literary works, including “Hind Swaraj,” “The Story of My Experiments with Truth,” and “Indian Home Rule,” bear testament to his intellectual prowess. He was honored as the Man of the Year by Time Magazine in 1930 and is regarded as one of the top 25 political icons in history.

Mahatma Gandhi’s life and philosophy stand as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come. His unwavering commitment to truth, nonviolence, and social justice continues to influence movements and leaders worldwide. Gandhi’s simple lifestyle and profound wisdom make him a symbol of humility and resilience, reminding us that even in the face of immense adversity, one individual can alter the course of history for the better.